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DiMaggio better than Trout … sorry, they are not comparable

I was waiting in an office for an appointment this week when I picked up a Sports Illustrated magazine … yes, a printed product on paper boys and girls.

BaseballI noticed a letter to the editor from a Rockford, Illinois, resident taking issue with a story from the prior week asserting that Mike Trout has had the best first five years of a career than anyone in major league history. The letter writer, who I don’t know so I won’t put his name out there, said he believed Joe DiMaggio had a better start than Trout.

The numbers he quoted are correct and if you just want to look at those numbers then he has an argument. I’ve had this discussion countless times with baseball fans over the years. I don’t consider anything before Jackie Robinson to be major league.

In DiMaggio’s day, there were no franchises west of St. Louis and the Pacific Coast League was very nearly major league so players like DiMaggio, who was from San Francisco were fairly rare in National and America leagues.

That’s a minor issue. The major issue of course is that DiMaggio wasn’t playing against all of the best players in the United States and therefore his stats are inflated.

DiMaggio never stepped in against Chet Brewer or Ramon Bragana or Ray Brown or Billy Byrd or Leon Day or Martin Dihigo and he only batted against Satchel Paige – officially – when Satch was in his late 40s.

How many balls did DiMaggio hit that fell in with lesser outfielders that would have been caught by Cool Papa Bell or Jimmie Crutchfield. John Holway, one of the giants of Negro League baseball research, noted that no batter has hit .400 since Ted Williams in 1941. That’s before integration and that’s not a coincidence.

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